Van driver killed in Calais after migrants block road with tree trunks

A van driver has been killed in Calais after migrants caused a pile-up by blocking the road with tree trunks, French authorities said.

The vehicle, registered in Poland, smashed into other lorries on the A16 early on Tuesday morning and burst into flames, killing the man inside.

Nine Eritreans were found stowed in one of the lorries and were arrested, according to the Prefecture du Pas-de-Calais.

Crude roadblocks have been a long-time tactic for those desperate to infiltrate vehicles bound for the UK and has been a cause of concern for British hauliers.

Calais has seen a return of migrants to the area in recent months, less than a year after its "Jungle" camp was dismantled and residents relocated.

A spokesman for the Prefecture du Pas-de-Calais said the fatal crash took place at around 3.45am on Tuesday, between junction 49 and 50, near the town of Guemps.

He said: "This van hit one of the three trucks stopped by the block and set alight.

"The identity of the driver is not known at this stage, considering the state of the body."

The death comes on the eve of the British school holidays, during which thousands of families are expected to cross through the port at the start of their overseas break.

The UK-based Road Haulage Association (RHA) has previously warned of the risk drivers face passing through the area.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said: "Our worst fears have become a reality. We have been predicting this for two years.

"The lives of innocent people, who want no more than to be able to go about their daily business in safety, are being put at risk by those whose only aim in life is to reach the UK.

"The security forces currently in place just cannot cope. It's not just Calais itself that need protecting; it's the approach roads too.

"President Macron must get a grip of this situation and we urge him to deploy the French military to provide safe passage for the thousands of UK-bound hauliers that use this route every day."

Further calls for the French authorities to escalate action to ensure vehicles are protected were made by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The organisation's EU affairs manager, Chris Yarsley, said: "This has brought the issue of migrants targeting drivers in Calais to the fore once again. FTA warned two years ago that their actions would lead to a death and it is now imperative that the French government takes action to control the situation and ensure the safety of drivers travelling to and from the port."

He added: "Driver safety is paramount and the French government needs to step up patrols on the major routes and move on migrants who are camped at the side of the road.

"This tragic incident demonstrates the risks to drivers and other road users, including day trippers and tourists. This death was wholly preventable and we must ensure that no-one else dies as a result of the dangerous actions of migrants on the roads."

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